Midyear Meeting 2010

ABA Adopts Host of Criminal Justice Measures

The ABA’s policy-making House of Delegates this morning passed a series of nine criminal justice resolutions. The measures had wide support from both prosecutors and the defense bar, according to speakers. The resolutions urge:

• Employers and educational institutions to ignore juvenile convictions that have been expunged.

• Legislatures to adopt simplified Miranda warnings for juveniles who are arrested.

• Legislatures to study whether some misdemeanor laws should carry civil fines rather than criminal penalties.

• Judges to conduct a conference with parties in a criminal case prior to trial, advising them of their respective disclosure obligations, such as the obligation of federal prosecutors to disclosure information under Brady v. Maryland and related case law.

• Governments to facilitate communication and contact between individuals in correctional custody and their families.

• Bar associations and law schools to provide prisoners with assistance in “avoiding undue consequences of arrest and conviction on their custodial and parental rights,” and Congress to allow Legal Services Corp.-funded organizations to provide family law counseling.

• The U.S. Attorney General to “assure that lawyers in the Department of Justice do not make decisions concerning investigations or proceedings based upon partisan political interests.” The measure is a response to the dismissal of several U.S. Attorneys during the Bush administration.

• Policy-makers adopt the ABA Criminal Justice Standards on the Treatment of Prisoners.

• Congress provide more than the $25 million appropriated so far for the John R. Justice Prosecutors and Defenders Incentive Act of 2008. The measure provides law school loan forgiveness for state and local prosecutors and state, local and federal public defenders who agree to serve for a minimum of three years. Federal prosecutors are already eligible for loan relief through existing federal programs.

The resolutions were all were adopted by overwhelming voice votes. No members of the House spoke in opposition to the measures.

The full text (PDF) of the resolutions: 102A, 102B, 102C, 102D, 102E, 102F, 102G, 102I, and 102J.

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